EU plans to reduce the amount of CO2-emission certificates (the so called 'backloading') have caused a huge controversy. While environmentalists and politicians hope these plans could bereathe new life into emission tradings, industry lobbyists and associations fear these plans could choke the faint recovery of Europe's industry...
“The proposals for backloading will not help. They signal a willingness to intervene in the market and push up prices, risking weakening competitiveness, and distracting investment from innovation", stated Hubert Mandery, Director General of the European chemical industry association Cefic. The association believes that backloading would only create uncertainty for market participants while not providing any guarantee that ETS-generated funds will be recycled back into innovative low-carbon technologies.
Politicians of several parties and environmentalists alike had previously expressed the concern, that the abundancy of emission allowances in the EU–market,
would fail to drive investments in energy efficient and green technology. "The burden of such a technology lock-in undermines economically responsible action to climate change. The recent surge in coal demand, due to low carbon prices and the shale gas boost in the United States, demonstrate the immediate consequences of inaction”, stated Greenpeace speakers in 2012.
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Backloading: Blessing or Curse for Chemical Industry?
The highly energy intensive chemical industry would be particularly affected by changes in the emission trade schemes. Therefor, it comes as little surprise that the EU plans are vividly discussed in the industry. While some industry players see chemical inventions as the key technology and game changer for a cleaner future, others see the UE plans as a thread for the fragile economic recovery in Europe:
“The European chemicals industry is actively engaged in developing low-carbon and energy-efficient solutions,” Cefif Director General Hubert Mandery says. “Our members are investing substantial sums to increase their efficiency and to make products that help other sectors to be more efficient. We need a better strategy that will deliver low-carbon and low-cost solutions for the European economy.”
Reducing the Emission Certificates Could Create new Competition
The European Parliament recently voted in favour of an amended European Commission proposal that would permit the proposed backloading of allowances under the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), which is detrimental for energy-intensive industries in Europe like the chemical.